How to Choose Aquarium Fish Tanks- Comprehensive Buyers guide

Fish keeping is an art. Every year, people around the world discover it and the natural wonders of aquariums. Fish keeping is an art which allows you to take the unique opportunity to observe as well as create a whole different world.

In this process, you learn about different aquatic animals, their behavior and their lifestyle. Besides, aquariums are a beautiful and fascinating addition to any home or office.

People nowadays are very fond of decorating their home with stickers, wall hangings, furniture, posters, etc. Out of all those, seaclear aquariums have become their most favorite.

They are the ultimate modern-day equipment that are preferred by people for their homes and offices. They are beautiful to look at and can be a focal point in any room or office. Also, they create a relaxing or calming environment. 

It might be the sound of bubbles that take you to a soothing place and removes the stress or the visual beauty of fish, moving here and there.

Besides that, there are several other reasons that make aquariums the best item for adorning your place. They benefit your physical and mental health in more than one way. 

Apart from cheering your mood, they also reduce blood pressure level, heart rate and many other things. If you are planning on buying an aquarium or if you are fond of fish, here are some benefits of owning a fish tank that I have listed down:

Reduce Stress: In this competitive world, it is not surprising to get stressed from your life. The stress eventually has emotional and physical effect on body and mind. Since it is unavoidable, you can at least keep it to a minimum by introducing an aquarium to your house or workplace. It has been proved that the movement of fish is hypotonic which is significant to put your mind at ease and forget daily troubles.

Reduces Pain: Have you ever noticed an aquarium at doctor’s clinics or at the dentist’s? The reason is not limited to them buying it just for the sake of making the place look more beautiful but extends to fish contributing to a lot of health benefits. Fish helps in reducing body pain. It has been reported by many patients that looking at an aquarium even if it is for a few minutes, eases the body pain.

Helps in sound sleep: A good night sleep is essential for everyone, be it a child or an adult. Fish tanks helps in inducing a relaxing effect on the entire body which contributes to you getting a sound sleep at night.

Reduces High Blood Pressure: Presence of a fish tank at your home or work place, helps in minimizing high blood pressure problems.

Increases Your Productivity: A good night sleep helps your body in repairing the damaged tissues while rejuvenating the cells ready for the next day. It improves your health which eventually increases your productivity. If you don’t have a lot of space in your office, you can still get a nano aquarium. It does not take much space and is also very easy to maintain.

Now that we know all the benefits of owning a fish tank, we will move on to the next part where I will tell you how to choose a fish tank for your place.

If you are a beginner, you should know that besides the price, there are several other things that need to be considered before actually buying something.

It does not just apply to fish tanks but everything. Price is indeed one of the prime factors but there are several others as well. You will know about them soon.

Aquariums come in a wide variety. They are different from each other on the basis of size, durability, clarity of glass, material quality, and many such things. Your main goal should be to provide the best suitable environment for all the species living inside your aquarium.

For this, you need to make sure that:

It is your duty to make sure that you have enough knowledge about marine life otherwise you would be keeping their lives in danger. So it is up to you to ensure that every organism you keep will live a long and healthy life!

  • The tank mates are appropriate for each other
  • Water quality is suitable to the organisms living inside
  • If the food your are feeding them contributes to their growth and health, etc.

How To Choose The Best Fish Tank / Aquarium for Your Home

Deciding to buy an aquarium is quite easy but when it comes to choosing the right one, it is not that simple. If you want to own a fish, getting an aquarium which is suitable to its size, is a must.

If you have ever walked down to a pet store, you must know that aquariums come in different sizes and shapes. 

It might get confusing at the time thinking how people know which aquarium is best for their fish, but no need to worry anymore as today I will tell you everything about them.

These are the points which should be kept in mind while buying a fish tank for your home or office:

Size of the Aquarium

Aquariums come in different sizes, from small to big ones. Smaller fish tanks have several benefits – easy maintenance, low cost, easy to carry and easy to clean.

While these perks of smaller fish tanks are very intimidating, its opposite is true! I will tell you how.

1. Yes, larger fish tanks cost high. They are not easy to carry, they demand high-maintenance and take more time to clean.

But if you are a beginner, a large fish tank is the best choice for you because they are easy to take care of and are far more forgiving of beginners mistakes. However, if you are a hobbyist or an experienced in handling fish, you can go for either of them.

2. ​Another point to be noted while considering the size of fish tanks is that, newly setup aquariums are biologically unstable. It means that in new aquariums, toxic ammonia and nitrate levels are very high which stresses and sometimes even kills the fish.

If you have a small aquarium, remember that these levels rise more rapidly in this size and you won't get enough time to clean the water. While with a larger aquarium, things don't happen all of a sudden and you get enough time to clean the water.

3. ​The minimum size of fish tank to consider is the minimum size the inhabitants will thrive in. If your tank does not provide at least that size, it is better to either pick another tank or another inhabitants. The bigger the aquarium, the better it is for the fish and other organisms to live in.

4. ​Large aquariums cycle faster which makes for a shorter stress period on the marine life.

Shape of the Fish Tank

The next consideration is the shape of the aquarium. Believe it or not, different fish prefer different swimming spaces. So it is a must to consider the dimensions of the fish tank before purchasing it.

Species like barbs and danios prefer living in rectangular aquariums. This is because large aquariums give them enough space to swim as they are long in size. 

Territorial fish like cichlids, mostly spend their time at the bottom of the fish tank so stay away from buying a narrow and taller aquarium if you are thinking of getting these species.

Other fish like angelfish, discus and gourami are the ones that are comparatively less active and spend most of their time doing nothing but roaming out and about. So for these fish, narrow and tall tanks are best suited.

Space in your Room

The space in your room or house can also influence your decision. An aquarium should be kept as a place where it serves as a focal point.

Since these tanks are designed exclusively for making your place look 100 times more attractive than it already is, they should be placed at the right spot.

If you want to buy a nano aquarium, it is merely of consideration as to where to place it. You can place it on a desk, a small table, or even on your study table. But if it is a large aquarium, the room should have enough space to keep it.

It should not look like you have just stuffed your place with fancy things when it does not even has the required space. Honestly, such decor looks hotchpotch and not at all appealing.

Tank Placement

Fish tanks are not easy to move once you have set them up. So a little planning in advance can prove to be really helpful in choosing the right spot.

1. The first and foremost thing to take care of is that the aquarium is not exposed to direct sunlight. Sunlight stimulates algae growth and it also warms up the water quickly. So keep your tank away from the windows or any place where it could get hit by direct sunlight.

2. ​​Another ideal place of a fish tank is near an electrical outlet. Aquariums need constant power for filtering, lightning, and heating. So instead of joining the cords all over the room and making it look ugly, just take place where the tank is easily accessible to the socket.

3. ​​Distance of the water supply should also be considered as you do not want buckets of water sloshing all over the place while cleaning the tank.

4. ​​Air conditioning vents, heaters and entrance of the room or house, have the ability to change the room temperature suddenly, including that of your fish tank. Since we know that a stable water temperature is imperative to a healthy aquarium, make sure to place it away from such areas.

5. ​​​Aquariums need sufficient space around them for cleaning and maintenance. So place it at a place where it does not block the accessories you need access to and has adequate space for ventilation. Proper ventilation helps control mold and other cultures that thrive in humidity and also keeps the heat to a minimum.

6. ​​​Set up the aquarium at a place where you spend most of your time. This way you will enjoy watching the fish. However, if you place the tank in the back room or anywhere where it is not visible, it will not get the care and attention it needs. This will increase the risk of fish disease and filter malfunctions.

7. ​​​Remember that once you set up the aquarium, it will weigh 10 times more with the water and all the equipments. So in case you decide to place it somewhere else after setting it up, you will have to disassemble it to do so. So choose the location carefully.

8. ​​The last important things to consider while placing the fish tank is, checking the floor of area were you wish to place it. Check whether the flooring is even. Also, make sure that one part of the foot is not on the hard floor and other parts on the carpet, as it will make the aquarium vulnerable to tipping over.

Thorough Research

The decision of owning an aquarium should be taken lightly because maintaining it is not as easy as it seems.

I have seen many people who brag about how easy it is to own a fish and take care of it, but when it comes to actually doing it, they throw in the towel after only a few weeks.

So, there are several things that can go wrong but they can be avoided by doing a little research before implementing on the decision.

It is wise to put on the brakes and think things through, especially while taking the decision of owning a life and taking care of it. 

If you want one, then you need to learn everything about them so that you do not commit a deliberate mistake.

Cost of Aquarium

Cost is the foremost factor to be taken into account while choosing an ideal aquarium for your home or office. Aquariums come in various sizes and shapes and they all cost different.

An inexperienced fish tank owner might be lulled with the fact that small aquariums are inexpensive. But when they start operating it, this assumption turn out to be absurd. 

As when you start operating an aquarium, you will realize that there are various things that comes with it in order to maintain it.

Here are some of the basic things you need for an aquarium - livestock, a fish tank, a stand, a heater, a water filter, a water pump, a net, an algae scraper and a siphon. 

For decor, you require – lightning, gravel, plants, food and driftwood or rocks. Though there are tons of other things required which depends on the type of fish tank you buy, these are the basic ones.

In short, if you are on a tight budget, you need to think twice before deciding on to purchase a fish tank. However, if the budget constraint is not a factor, then you can get the right quality supplies for your aquarium. 

It will make it look appealing by giving a natural effect and also, it will keep the fish healthy and happy.

Material of the Fish Tank

Aquariums come in 3 types of materials – Glass, Acrylics and Plastic. While plastic fish tanks are a perfect fit for small children who like watching fish for entertainment purpose, glass and acrylic ones are for adults.

If you compare the two, you would find that acrylic ones are preferred by people more than the glass one. There are several reasons to it.

1. Acrylic fish tanks are preferred over glass ones because they are very durable. Even if you try to break it with a hammer, you won’t find it easy to do that. Which means that these types of tanks are safe to keep around children.

2. ​​Another reason why it is loved so much by people is because it is not at all a heavy material unlike glass. So it is easy to move it from one place to another in case you want to change the setting of your room.

3. ​​Despite being a very thin material, acrylics are very strong. While glass fish tanks are made of a very thick material in order to support large volume of water, acrylics can provide amazing support despite being thin.

4. ​​Acrylic is a more pliable material than glass. It means that if you get this one, your aesthetic needs will be satisfied. You can get it in different shapes from the pet store.

5. ​​​In areas where earthquakes are common, acrylic fish tanks are more forgiving of shifting.

6. ​​​Now coming to the perks of owning a glass fish tank is that they do not get scratched as much as acrylic ones.

7. ​​​Also, glass fish tanks do not turn yellow overtime even if you get a cheap one glass tank.

8. ​​​The final point about material quality of fish tanks is that acrylic fish tanks are far more expensive than glass fish tanks.

So both of the materials have their own advantages and disadvantages. You have to consider the pros and cons of both of them and then decide which one to buy.

Type of Fish

You may be interested in getting a certain type of fish. If this is the case, you will have to choose a fish tank depending on the type of aquarium that your fish needs.

Which means that your options get limited. Like, if you want to get a Betta fish or a goldfish, you can get a small aquarium for them. 

These species do not need large amount of water and space to thrive. However, with large species, you have to get a big aquarium. Otherwise, you will be risking their life and health.

For example, a freshwater angelfish grow much faster than most people realize. So with them, you are smart to go with a 30-gallon tank or even bigger. The same thing goes for all the species.

Setting up the Aquarium

Handle with care

Aquariums are a delicate item. Does not matter if it made of acrylic or glass. You have to be very cautious while handling it.

Never attempt to move a partially or full aquarium. Always empty it before doing so. And never lift it with wet hands. As it might happen that the tank slips off from your grip and breaks. If such a thing happens, you will risk a lot of things.

Another points to keep in mind are to never lift the fish tank from upper edges or frame. The aquarium already has tons of things that weighs it 10 times more so remember that it is not too light for you. Instead of that, always carry the aquarium from underneath, by supporting the bottom.

Prepare the Tank

Before setting up the tank, make sure to clean it from the inside as well as outside using a damp cloth. Keep in mind not to use a rough cloth as it might scratch acrylic tanks.

Also, keep such objects away from the aquarium. Last thing for preparing the tank is to not use detergents, soap or any other kind of cleaning agent to clean the tank. 

As these things leave toxic and chemicals inside the tank which is not good for marine life. However, you can use them to clean from the outside.

Innovative self-cleaning aquariums are also available in the market which are the best for people who don’t enjoy cleaning or have a busy life.

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Choosing the location

I have already told you a ton of things to consider while choosing the location of the aquarium.

1. Place it at a location which is designed to support its weight as an aquarium filled with water weighs about 10-12 pounds per gallon.

2. ​Always place the fish tank on a flat, level surface.

3. ​​Make sure an electrical outlet is close to the fish tank.

4. ​​Never place it near a heater, cooler or home entrance.

5. ​​​Keep it away from the reach of direct sunlight as full and even partial sunlight can cause excessive algae growth.

Add gravel

Before adding the gravel to the aquarium, rinse it well as there are chances that it is coated with impurities.

Add 1.5-2 pounds of gravel for every gallon and the gravel bed should slope gradually to the front of your fish tank.

Fill the tank

Pouring gallons of water into the tank disturbs the gravel bed and other items inside. So before doing so, place a clean dish on top of the gravel bed and then pour water on it.

Next thing to keep in mind is to always fill the aquarium with water at room temperature. This is because fish thrives on a particular water temperature. If the water is too hot or too cold, it affects their health.

And always remember to treat water with a dechlorinator before adding it to the aquarium. Never add plain or untreated water into the fish tank as it can harm the living organisms.

Decorating the aquarium

After filling half of the aquarium with water, you can add adorning items to it like aquarium plants, rocks, gravel and ornaments.

But before placing them in the fish tank, make sure to rinse them thoroughly. When placing plants, whether live or artificial, it is a good idea to place the larger ones to the rear of the tank and the smaller ones to the front. 

This way you will be able to easily see the marine life inside. Otherwise, the plants will hide the view. It also ensures an open area for the fish to swim especially those which prefers living at the bottom.

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When you are done with decorating the aquarium, continue filling it with water to within an inch of the top of the rim.

Temperature Required

A heater is one of the most important equipments to maintain the life inside the aquarium. It maintains the water temperature.

Most of the tropical fish require a temperature between 75-80 degree F in order to survive. For these fish, heater is a must. Coming to goldfish and many other cold water species, they are an exception to this rule.
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Miscellaneous Tips

  • When you have setup the aquarium, add only a few recommended fish to it at first and introduce more of them over the next few weeks.
  • Don’t make the aquarium over-crowded.
  • Make sure the fish you choose are healthy and active as less but active fish are more appealing than more but inactive.
  • Make sure the water in which the fish enters has the same temperature as the water from which it left.
  • Don’t transport the fish from one tank to another in a hush. Let the fish swim itself – The less traumatic the transport, the better.
  • Don’t forget to feed the fish.

A thorough research and good planning are the two habits that most successful aquarium owners have in common. Unfortunately, many newbie do not get the need of doing this.

They go against the grain which ends up in tragedy. Being over confident is not a good trait especially when you are taking the responsibility of a pet. If you do so, you are a careless person.

No single aquarium is ideal for every person. There are a lot of factors on which it is dependent. For a person living in a small house, a small aquarium would be ideal.

While for a person living in a big house or a large office, a big aquarium would be ideal. So these are the chief factors which need to be taken into account when choosing the right fish tank for your home or office or even if you are gifting it to someone.

All the points outlined above are great ways to end up with a beautiful and healthy fish tank.

In these cases, you need to do thorough research. In one case, you need to find out what kind of fish is appropriate for your fish tank once you get it up and start running. 

While in some cases, you will have to first choose the fish you want and then find out which type of tank is best suited for it.

So in both the cases, it purely depends on your priority which will act as the base and considered firstly. Then the rest of the decision will eventually follow.


Which size aquarium is best for home?

It really depends on what you are looking for in an aquarium. If you want a smaller aquarium that is easier to take care of, then a 20 gallon tank is a good option. If you are looking for a larger aquarium that can accommodate more fish, then a 55 gallon tank would be a better choice. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what size aquarium is best for your home.

Is a glass or plastic fish tank better?

There are pros and cons to both glass and plastic fish tanks. Glass is generally more expensive than plastic, but it is also more durable and gives your aquarium a more polished look. Plastic is less expensive and lighter weight, making it easier to move around. It is also less likely to break if dropped. Ultimately, the decision of which type of fish tank to get is up to the individual aquarist.

How long does a glass aquarium last?

A properly cared for aquarium can last for many years, even a lifetime. However, the average lifespan of a glass aquarium is 10-15 years. Glass aquariums are very durable and will not break easily. However, the silicone sealant that holds the aquarium together can deteriorate over time and may need to be replaced.

Conclusion On How To Choose Fish Tanks / Aquariums for Home

Now that you know the things to consider before choosing an aquarium fish tank, you can be sure to find the perfect one for your home. Remember to do your research, and handle the tank with care when setting it up. With a little bit of effort, you can create a beautiful and relaxing space for your fish to thrive.


[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts

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  1. I appreciate that the article explains how a fish aquarium is able to reduce the stress in your life as the movement of fish is hypotonic. My husband and I have very stressful jobs and we want to find ways to ease that stress at home. Maybe we will consider getting a fish aquarium in our apartment.

  2. I loved learning that having a fish aquarium can help reduce stress by putting your mind at ease. My husband and I want to create a stress-free environment at our house so it is more enjoyable. We will have to look into purchasing a fish tank for our house to improve its atmosphere.

  3. Thanks for the tip that a slow introduction to a fish tank is important to consider when getting a new aquarium. I’d like to look for the best fish tank for sale because I’ve always wanted to try having pets. I think taking care of fish would be a good idea because I can do a good job as long as I can keep up with all the maintenance needed for it.

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